What would the impact of Brexit be on UK employment law?

With an in-out EU referendum set to take place on 23 June 2016, we consider some of the possible areas for change in UK employment law.

It may be that for those voting “out” the point is not what may change but simply that Parliament is free to change it. Either way in the short term future Governments are more likely to tinker at the edges rather than engage in radical reform. The lack of appetite for such reform points to shared values. When it was introduced a lot of EU employment law simply replicated existing UK protections (e.g. the right to return from maternity leave) and a majority of employers and employees view the bulk of existing employment law (e.g. paid holiday, discrimination laws, paid parental leave) as positive and just.

In particular:

Paid Holiday

A right to paid holiday (i.e. 5.6 weeks) is well established and any attempt to scrap it would be deeply unpopular in this country with employees and Trade Unions. This is however one of the areas where a Government may seek to tinker, for example by overturning headline grabbing European Court of Justice decisions which allow employees to accrue holiday while on sick leave.


It is difficult to imagine any Government pushing to repeal the Equality Act 2010 with a view to removing the existing protection from discrimination and harassment. However, those wishing to tinker may argue that if you can cap an unfair dismissal award you should be able to cap a discrimination award. 

Paid parental leave

The UK has led the way with paid maternity leave and the relatively recently introduced right to shared parental leave and right to request flexible working are home grown initiatives. Far from imagined burdens imposed by Brussels these rights reflect UK values.  

Clearly there are some interesting times ahead and there will remain some uncertainty until the outcome of the referendum is known. 

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